By R.M.B Senanayake –
This is the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta of 1215.For the first time in history a King had to agree to be subject to law and to rule according to the law and not according to his fancy. King John tried to renege on the Agreement and consulted the Poe. The Pope said as he had signed under duress he was not bound to honor it. But the King could not back out without the risk of civil war.
The Magna Carta inspired political thinkers and freedom fighters in the West including the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution. The Rule of Law is now firmly established in the West. But not so in our country. President Mahinda and his Ministers and even the Provincial Ministers considered themselves above the law and indulged in violation even of the criminal law; but the Police overlooked these flagrant violations of the law. They failed to arrest them, produce them in Court or even investigate their offences. They did so because of the President’s influence over them. He even took the Attorney General’s Department under his direct control and his brother Gotabaya controlled the Police. So the Rule of Law disappeared and the applicability of the law came to be confined only
The new President in his election campaign exposed these violations and the corruption and promised to bring changes to the Executive Presidency at a minimum and even abolish it. But we hear there are discussion with the ex-President and other MPs who have pledged support to the new Government. They seem to be wanting an assurance that they will not be prosecuted for their offences of corruption and violations of the law. Does the President have the power to grant such immunity from the Law? No, he has no power to do and if he gives any such promises they are null and void. The new Government must allow those in charge of enforcing the law to do so without interference. Otherwise they will be committing the same wrongful practices and the pledge to introduce good governance becomes an empty promise. It is not a question of taking revenge as wrongly assumed by some. No, justice requires that all people should be treated the same way by the Law and to let off any offenders who have committed offences is not just. Whether the offences are against the domestic law or the International Law no person who has committed an offence should be excused. Even the pledge at the election campaign not to allow those who have violated the laws of war is not justifiable. When Members signed the various Declarations they accepted the legal obligation to comply with them. This participation and the assumption of legal obligations by states have been voluntary. The treaty rights generate corresponding legal duties upon state actors, to protect against, prevent, and remedy human rights violations. The treaty system definitively establishes the limitations on sovereignty, the validity of international supervision and accountability” Ref “The UN Human Rights Treaty System: Universality at the Crossroads” Professor Anne F. Bayefsky April 2001. Aren’t we obliged to comply with the Un Human Rights Commission? Can the President negate such an obligation? Will a lawyer who has studied International Law please clarify?